that girl has a chip on her shoulder–
a goddamn brick on her shoulder.
She’s a with-holder, she roll
like a boulder,
a freight train,
a bed stain .
It’s like she got caught in the rain
or acid. We can see she’s rancid.
She’s a list. She’s in a mother fucking tryst
with power. She’ll devour
your metaphysical, your reciprocal
heart beat. She’ll start beatin’
you at your own game, has been
for too long—you mad bro? You
gonna slap a hoe? Get a hold on.
Yeah get a grip. She’s not a bitch.
She’s a mother fucking
PHEW: You mad, bro?
Well, you shouldn’t be. As a feminist woman I’m not trying to usurp your power. I’m not trying to say I’m better than you. I don’t want your pants. Keep em. I hate Levi’s. But, what I do want is equality. I want recognition if I work equally as hard for a job I am just as qualified for. I’m not asking you to slam doors in my face, rather than hold them open and trample my dignity. I’m asking you to hold open a door for yourself, for your dude friends, for the crazy cat aunt we’ve all got. And, while you’re busy doing that. I’ll hold the door for your brother, you dad, your mother. I’ll walk your grandma across the street. I see feminism as equal opportunity kindness. I see it as feet free of the ratty slippers called gender. I see it as asking questions. I see it as engendering more questions. I see it as exploration. I don’t see it as defamation.
I don’t want to de-masculinize you. So stop crying about it on the internet.
The other day, I was at a bar with my friend, Zorn, and our other friend’s mom. The stomping grounds were quiet, so we birthed bloody into the night a raging debate about gender. Only, it took us a while to realize we were on the same side. Zorn—a pretty unique dude, rat prince, runaway, the wiser the better—was trying to explain that mine and Bea’s (the mom) examples of “anti-feminist” behaviors were essentialist and conversely anti-masculine. Initially, I didn’t understand. I was all bent out of shape because I dig that boy and I thought he was trying to tell me that my experiences weren’t legitimate. Also: he’s a fighter, yeller, etc. We had to slow down and learn the rules of listening—all of us. Eventually, once I realized what Z-baby was trying to say, I broke it down like this:
Bea and I both have worked jobs in which we were approached as men typically approach attractive women. IE: Heya baybay…lookin good in that uniform. etc. Yet, when we began to out perform the dudes/demonstrate our personalities—both of us being quite silly, fun-loving, yet take charge ladies—they denigrated us. They maybe called us bitches. And, they made us feel as though unless we are capable of acting like beautiful objects rather than real, hard-working people, then we weren’t fit to be women.
Can you see how Zorn would have interpreted that? He’s right in saying that our sample of men was small, that we might have made it sound as though all men are bad/denigrate women. But, here’s how I rationalize mine and Bea’s experience:
We live in a house. And, in the house, there are some things ok for women to do, and some things ok for men to do. Because we’ve been living in the house so long, it’s a little engrained in us to just naturally do these things. That’s called gender. While some people are perfectly okay performing the tasks assigned to them, others don’t understand the house. Others don’t see the reason for the house. There’s such a beautiful sky out tonight. When women (and men) cross the gender line, no one knows how to react to them. Women doing what was traditionally men’s work have to be framed by men in the only way they have ever learned to interact with women. Thus they are often sexualized. But if they can’t dig that, men don’t know what to do—especially if the woman does the job better. In this way, women (and men crossing lines) get compartmentalized and labeled bitches (or fags.)
So, how do we change that?
The fact of the matter is, a lot of people don’t care. Even women. It’s easier to make something from a box. To use a stencil. It’s less time consuming.
But, for those with qualms, those made uneasy in the shadowy recesses of the house, I suggest certainty. I mean, if you’re off put by gender expectations, then you have to seriously commit to living your life outside the box. Make yourself an example. I’m not saying you can’t be a mama. I’m not saying you can’t be the toughest, hairiest, Paul Bunyonesque dude ever. It’s more about support. Don’t laugh at jokes about women, or sexy queers, or racism. Be prepared to address supervisors who are not acting appropriately. Be prepared to start a million small fires.
That’s how you burn a house to the ground.